31 August 2011

Katia intensifies, could become hurricane later today

Katia is still a tropical storm, but the central pressure has fallen 9mb in the past 24 hours... certainly not rapid by any measure, but on a decidedly strengthening trend.  The maximum sustained winds are estimated at 55kts as of the 15Z advisory, and additional (substantial) intensification is expected.
Forecast models are in excellent agreement on a continued WNW track for the next 5 days, which brings it near the northern Leeward Islands.  Beyond that, there is some divergence... with the majority recurving it well off the US east coast (perhaps bad news for Bermuda) and a minority bringing it very close to the US east coast.  There is plenty of time to refine the forecast track before it's a thread to any land.

The disturbance I mentioned in the western Caribbean continues to simmer, now near the northern tip of the Yucatan peninsula. 

Many models slowly develop this as it heads NW into the Gulf of Mexico, then by this weekend into next week, have it stall off the TX/LA coast... perhaps strengthening as it sits there.  Definitely something to keep an eye on.  The image below shows the total precipitable water (TPW... the total amount of water in an atmospheric column if it all condensed out), and the large envelope of high values surrounding this disturbance.  An environment of very moist air is healthy for tropical cyclones, both young and old.

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

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